DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a social club that has high dues but offers a lot of activities for my family. I have been willing to spend the money because it has been good for the kids, but this year has been tough for me. It seems like the costs have gone up just as my resources have diminished.
I contacted the financial secretary to see if I could get a break just this year because of my financial situation. I was embarrassed to ask, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was granted a payment plan -- not a discount. I appreciate that, but now I wonder if I should stay in the organization. -- Too High a Price
DEAR TOO HIGH A PRICE: You need to weigh the pros and cons. Write down what the benefits of belonging to this organization have been. Look across several years to see how engaged your children have been and how consistent their involvement has been. This is important so that you can see how your money is being utilized. Then consider the other things you do with your children or that you pay for them to do. What do all of these things add up to, and which are most valuable?
Finally, look at your current budget. What can you afford? If you simply can’t swing it, you will need to either resign from the group or ask for a sabbatical for a year. Sometimes organizations will allow you to pause your involvement for extenuating circumstances.
Don’t forget that you can get creative and design activities for and with your kids independent of an organization. And if your children have forged bonds with some of the children in the club, you may be able to include them in your activities anyway. You don’t have to have the formal connection to keep the children together.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was working on a project with a long-term client when my main contact left to go to another company. I continued and completed the project, but when I turned in my invoice, there was a disagreement over what I was hired to do. Now my check is being held up because not everything was written down. I know that’s my fault. But I had worked with these people for years, and there had never been an issue. How can I get it resolved without damaging my relationship with the new leadership? -- Rocky Transition
DEAR ROCKY TRANSITION: If your former contact maintained a positive relationship with this company, perhaps they can help you out. Contact your person and explain the situation. Ask if they would be willing to step in and share the details of the handshake negotiation that they made with you on behalf of the company. That may help to clarify things.
You may want to consider making a compromise. If you value this client and want to continue to work with the company, you may need to accept the terms that they have offered and pledge to yourself to get a contract in the future.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)